Pope Francis yesterday marking his first visit in Central African Republic celebrated the 1st advent sunday mass in the Cathedral of Bangui where he opened the “Holy Door”. Celebrating with him in the Cathedral were priests, religious, catechists and youths, protestants and their leaders, and some non-christians.
Pope Francis in the mass called on all Christians to learn to love their enemies in that way they can be able to rule vengeance out of their hearts.
“Christians, and especially those with a vocation to priesthood or religious life, are called to love their enemies, which protects us from the temptation to seek revenge and from the spiral of endless retaliation. Anyone who has a role of evangelism, teacher or preacher in the Christian community, he said, must be first and foremost practitioners of forgiveness, specialists in reconciliation, experts in mercy." the Pope said in his homily.
Pope Francis urged the people of Central Africa that as they celebrate this season of advent, they should constantly keep in mind the true nature of God which is Justice and Love. He told them this stressing that what can save central Africa from her unfortunate state of war is “Justice and Love”.
“God is stronger than all else. This conviction gives the believer serenity, courage and the strength to persevere in good amid the greatest hardships.” the Pope said
“To all those who make unjust use of the weapons of this world, I make this appeal: Lay down these instruments of death! Arm yourselves instead with righteousness, with love and mercy, the authentic guarantors of peace," the Pope added.
Before the Mass Pope Francis have held meetings with the Catholic Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, president of the Central African Republic bishops’ conference, Rev Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou, president of the Evangelical Alliance of the Central African Republic, and Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, president of the Islamic Community of Central African Republic, working together to persuade their people to end the vendettas and embrace peace and reconciliation.
Pope Francis publicly expressed his solidarity to Pastor Nicolas of that Evangelical Alliance of the Central African Republic, whose house was recently ransacked and set ablaze.The Holy Father said “the Lord keeps asking us to demonstrate to everyone his tenderness, compassion and mercy."
Statistics have it that 5th of the population of Central Africa have fled the nation due to this war, some fled abroad and the others in refugee camps of Central Africa. As their homes, jobs, loved ones and properties have been destroyed.
“There are also those who have been scarred in soul or body by hatred and violence, those whom war has deprived of everything: work, home and loved ones. When God looks upon the suffering, he does not see members of one denomination or another.” the Pope said.
“I have often called this the ecumenism of blood. All our communities suffer indiscriminately as a result of injustice and the blind hatred unleashed by the devil. The lack of unity among Christians is a scandal, above all because it is contrary to God’s will.” the Pope added.